FTSE 250 tops 22,000 for first time on UK recovery hopes

The mid-cap index pushed past the 22,000 threshold for the first time in history as optimism for a post-Covid-19 recovery buoyed faith in UK stocks

The FTSE 250 jumped past 22,000 for the first time in history as UK post-virus optimism abounded, while the blue chip index gained for a second day.

The FTSE 100 climbed 0.8%, or 59 points, to 6,883 putting it in sight of a three month high. However, it was the FTSE 250 that grabbed headlines as despite failing to match the gains of the large cap index, it added 166 points, or 0.76%, to trade at 22,161 – the first time the mid-cap index has ever pushed over the 22,000 threshold.

Optimism for a post-coronavirus turnaround in the UK economy buoyed investor sentiment, with the International Monetary Fund also lifting its 2020 global growth forecast from 5.5% to 6.%. This is despite the virus continued to spread across Europe and ongoing rows over the use of the AstraZeneca shots. 

‘Despite the third wave in Europe, concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine, and reported worries about an incoming slowdown in the UK’s vaccination programme, yesterday’s International Monetary Fund growth upgrades have helped keep the markets feeling fresh,’ said Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex.

Domestic facing stocks were winners on both the main market and the mid-cap index. Although BP (BP) was the leader on the bule chips – up 3.1% at 309p, housebuilders and property groups made up the majority of the top gainers this morning:

  • Land Securities (LAND) was up 2.7% at 720p
  • Taylor Wimpey (TW) was up 2.6% at 187p
  • British Land (BLND) as up 2.3% at 526p
  • Persimmon (PSN) was up 2.2% at £31.62

Outsourced engineering group Babcock (BAB) jumped to the top of the mid-caps, adding 6.1%, or 14p, to 242p. It was followed by food-on-the-go group SSP (SSP), the owner of Upper Crust, which added 5% to trade at 332p.

Shopping centre owner Hammerson (HMSO) racked up a second day of gains as the owner of the Bullring in Birmingham and Brent Cross in North London pushed 4.4% higher to 37p.

AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson said UK domestic stocks also were boosted by a private equity bid for Japanese conglomerate Toshiba ‘which is likely to prompt speculation about which companies could be next to fall prey to the wall of cash private equity firms have built up in recent years’.

‘The UK market, which has seen its fair share of takeover action of late, is an obvious candidate for M&A speculation as the relative weakness of the pound and the wider underperformance of the UK stocks against their global counterparts has made it an attractive pond for potential acquirers to fish in,’ she said.

Jupiter Green grows

Jupiter Green (JGC ) gained 7.7p or 2.9% to 271.7p after issuing 1.18m subscription shares as part of the £53m trust’s growth plan. Holders will have the right to buy one share for every 10 they own in a year’s time at their net asset value at 31 March just gone.

Rival Impax Environmental Markets (IEM ) advanced 1.3% to 454p after reported a net asset value total return of 31% for 2020 compared to a 12.7% for the MSCI World index. The trust had to dip into revenue reserves to pay a 2.3p dividend, a reduction on the 3p per share paid last year.

In other investment trust news, Residential Secure Income (RESI ) rose 1.4p or 1.5% to 93.4p after saying it would reach full dividend cover this July after a £16m acquisition of 191 shared ownership homes left the £345m portfolio fully invested in 3,061 homes.

Aberdeen Standard European Logistics Income (ASLI ) climbed 1.1% higher to 109p after it acquired a new logistics and distribution property in Poland for €28m. The real estate investment trust has also provided a positive update on its ongoing discussions over the administration of a French tenant over owed rent.

Draper Esprit (GROW) dropped 15p or 1.8% to 815p as co-founder of the technology venture capital fund Simon Cook announced his retirement and move to the West Coast of America, where he will act as informal adviser to the company.

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